Morning Security Brief: NSA Spying in Spain, Fixes Major Security Flaw, Terrorism in Beijing, And More

By Holly Gilbert

► Tens of millions of phone calls in Spain were spied on by the National Security Agency (NSA) during a single month, according to an online article from Spanish newspaper El Mundo (“The World”) published Sunday Night. El Mundo found out about the spying through leaked documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which “showed that the NSA collected bulk data on 60 million phone calls placed in Spain in December 2012.” This news comes on the heels of a report in German newspaper Der Spiegel (“The Mirror”) that claimed the NSA tapped German chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone for more than 10 years. According to NBC News, President Obama has ordered a review of U.S. surveillance programs following the dump of classified documents by Snowden.

► TIME reports that a security flaw in the original design of, one that could have “disclosed e-mail and other account information to hackers,” has been fixed. The vulnerability, discovered by a software developer, was related to the password reset function of the Web site, which would show up anytime a user’s name was typed in. “The code, which was only visible through a browser’s developer tools, could then be used to gain access to the e-mail associated with the account, as well as the security questions that the user had answered upon signing up,” according to the report. Brian Cook, who works for the agency that oversees, says the problem was eliminated during a fix on Monday night. The technical glitch is just one of many flaws that have plagued the federal exchange site, designed to enroll people in health insurance, since its initial launch on October 1.

► Chinese authorities say they suspect terrorism in the fiery car crash in Tiananmen Square on Monday that left five people dead and dozens injured. The Chinese believe the attack was “carried out by three men from the restive Xinjiang region who drove a vehicle into a crowd of bystanders and set it on fire,” according to Reuters. The three men in the vehicle were killed along with two tourists; 38 people were injured. Police are now searching for “two people suspected to be ethnic Uighurs, a Muslim minority from Xinjiang in China's far west, on the borders of Central Asia,” the report says. Uighur separatists and religious extremists, who claim they want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan, have carried out several attacks in Xinjiang, but this was the first such attack in Beijing.

► In other news, President Obama will meet today with a group of CEOs behind closed doors to discuss cybersecurity and the administration’s efforts to protect critical infrastructure. ♦ Internal documents show the Department of Homeland Security is considering lifting a ban on Libyans coming to the United States for training in aviation and nuclear fields. ♦ The Port of Baltimore has received its sixth consecutive “excellent” rating from the Coast Guard, this year for changes it made to security. 


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